You’ve heard it before.
You’re lamenting over a very embarrassing or difficult time in your life with a friend of yours and they hit you with it: the after-the-fact-advice.
It comes in the form of a very subtle “I told you so” or an “I always thought…” and your head starts to spin. You think back to the aforementioned time in your life, and you try to comb through every instance in which your friend offered you wisdom or advice.
And just as you thought. There wasn’t a single one.
You heard things like this before:
“Yeah, maybe those bangs weren’t the best look for you.”
“I never did think you two were a good pair.”
“You know, I didn’t want to burst your bubble, but you did move a little fast.”
This happened to me recently while making some brief mention of an awful choice in boyfriends during my early years of university, and it got me thinking. Why do we do this? Sometimes our opinions and wisdom could be helpful, but it sure isn’t helpful months later. Why do we keep our mouths shut while the people around us are proverbially crashing and burning? And then, when all is said and done and our friends are picking up the pieces, then we offer our two cents? What are we so afraid of? We hold back what we truly feel in order to be accommodating. We hold back, because even though we think our opinion is correct. We’re afraid to create a ruckus. But really, there’s a better word for it.
Whether our thoughts are correct or completely wrong, we have a responsibility to offer truth and wisdom to those we love. And we certainly have no right to offer such things after the fact. As soon as we open our mouths to offer our oh-so wise advice after the fact, we become high and mighty, insensitive, and unkind. Even if it happens to be about that time when I accidentally died my hair a patchy purple colour (which did actually happen, and on more than one occasion), it’s just not right. Essentially, it’s like complaining about who became mayor even though you didn’t vote.
So the next time you think of gracing your friend with your after-the-fact advice, please don’t. And of course, I’m talking to myself as well.